Posted by R. Berg on November 20, 2003
In Reply to: More pills posted by pdianek on November 19, 2003
: : : : : : Where did "Don't be such a pill," or the use of "pill" to describe something lame, come from?
: : : : : My guess... it comes from the phrase "Take a chill pill." which means "relax" or "don't get excited".
: : : : Could it be short for 'pillock', a colloquial British word for a dumb or stupid person - at least in the eyes of the speaker?
: : : "Take a chill pill" must be too recent to be the origin. The Oxford English Dictionary gives "An objectionable person; a bore" as a slang sense of "pill," with the earliest example dated 1897. In a similar sense, "pill" means anything that people don't like to "swallow" or endure. These meanings come from the reluctance with which people swallow medicinal pills. In earlier times, I believe, pills were typically large and often bitter.
: : pill = teacher. (1920s)
: : pill = disagreeable person. (1930s)
: : THE pill = birth control method. (1960s)
: : pill = basketball. (Hip-Hop & Rap)
: : From "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996)
: "In earlier times, I believe, pills were typically large and often bitter." Well, yeah, like 1960s penicillin, taken to combat streptococcus. Those things were HUGE. And foul.
Uh, the 1960s are "earlier times" now? Did I just wake up from a Rip Van Winkle nap?
Sorry, kids, do I need to explain who Rip was now?